A well documented problem in the U.S. health care system is that patients are often not told when a medical error occurs, even when the mistake results in injury.
In fact, over the course of three years, the non-profit news organization ProPublica provided a questionnaire to more than 1,000 people across the country who said that they or a loved one had been injured during a medical procedure.
Shockingly, only 20 percent of respondents indicated that the health care provider disclosed the harm. In about 50 percent of cases, injured patients or their families got answers only after filing a lawsuit or complaint.
The problem is more widespread than most people realize.
It is estimated that each year between 210,000 and 440,000 people die as a result of preventable hospital errors, making medical injury the third-leading cause of death in the United States. Only heart disease and cancer are linked to more deaths.
With numbers that high, the likelihood of non-disclosure of a medical injury is significant. The reality is that many injured patients and their families feel ignored and dismissed when they try to find out exactly what went wrong.
A better way of tracking medical errors would not only help patients who have already suffered injuries; a better system would improve future medical care.
In 1999 the Institute of Medicine published a breakthrough study called "To Err Is Human," which focused on improving the nation's health care system. One of the primary recommendations in the study was to create a national registry for tracking medical mistakes.
Still, no such registry exists, and keeping track of these errors is mostly left up to doctors and hospitals that are not inclined to admit that a mistake happened. Consequently, the burden of uncovering the cause of a medical injury is often placed on the victim or the victim's family.
Victims of medical negligence deserve answers.
At Davis & Davis, we understand how quickly things can go wrong in health care today, and we know how frustrating it can be when health care providers fail to disclose medical errors. Our clients come to us for answers when no one else will give them.
Our firm is dedicated to helping victims of medical malpractice in Houston and throughout Texas. We work to find out exactly what went wrong, who is to blame, who should pay, and how to prevent the same thing from happening to someone else.
For more on hospital errors and related issues, please see our hospital negligence overview.